Lesson Plan: Universal Service Fund and Telephone Access

Universal Service Fund Overview

Edward Wyatt provides an overview of this program and explains how it is funded.

Description

The Universal Service Fund was initially created to provide phone service to people in rural areas of the country. Congress established a program under which phone companies would subsidize the service in high cost areas; however, the program has evolved to include providing service to low income people as well as to schools and libraries, and medical facilities. In this lesson, students will learn about the various programs under the Universal Service Fund and how they are funded.

Procedures

  • Step 1:

    As a class, view the video below to provide background information on the subject and use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion.

    Students may use the following handout to take notes as they view the video clips in this lesson and participate in class discussion.

    Handout: Universal Service Fund (Google Doc)

  • Video Clip 1: Universal Service Fund Overview (3:31)

    Edward Wyatt provides an overview of this program and explains how it is funded.

    Vocabulary: Subsidize, Rural, Urban, Mandate, Consumer, Revenue

    1. Explain the idea behind the Universal Service Fund.

    2. How is the program funded?

    3. What programs fall under this fund?
  • Step 2:

    Ask students to view the following videos on programs in the Universal Service Fund. This can be done as an individual or jigsaw activity. Students can discuss the questions related to each video in their group and be prepared to share information in their video with the class.

  • Video Clip 2: High Cost Fund (1:23)

    Edward Wyatt talked about how this program operates as a service to rural areas under the Universal Service Fund.

    Vocabulary: Broadband, Regulate

    1. Explain how the High Cost Fund portion of the program works.
  • Video Clip 3: The E-Rate Program (1:31)

    Edward Wyatt explains how this program operates under the Universal Service Fund.

    Vocabulary: Dial-Up Service

    1. Explain how the E-Rate portion of the Universal Service Fund works.
  • Video Clip 4: Lifeline Program (1:43)

    Edward Wyatt explains the purpose of this program under the Universal Service Fund and the controversy surrounding it as it relates to land lines and wireless phones.

    Vocabulary: Luxury Item, Expenditure

    1. What is the Lifeline program?

    2. Who is eligible to participate in this program?

    3. Explain the controversy surrounding this program regarding land lines and wireless phones.
  • Step 3:

    Have students from each group share the information they gained from their video. Engage in class discussion on whether or not the cost of these programs should be subsidized through carriers or passed on to consumers.

  • Extension Activity:

    Write a letter to the FCC Chairman explaining your position on the funding of these programs. You may also offer alternate methods of funding.

Additional Resource

Vocabulary

  • Broadband
  • Consumer
  • Dial-up Service
  • Expenditure
  • Luxury Item
  • Mandate
  • Regulate
  • Revenue
  • Rural
  • Subsidize
  • Urban

Topics

Social Services

Grades

High SchoolUniversity